Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Advantages of Avocado: Love It, Hate It...Either Way, Eat It!

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My favorite holiday is Cinco de Mayo. Well, maybe Christmas... but Cinco de Mayo is definitely a close second. I adore Mexican food. In my 'former life', when I lived in Atlanta and was surrounded by cheap Mexican restaurants, I would sometimes go for lunch and order queso (my death row dish of choice) twice a week. It's really a miracle I didn't gain 1,000 pounds. I made people take me for Mexican on my birthday every single year. Sometimes I wore a sombrero. Mexican food is serious business in my book.

With all that said, I'm sad to admit that I have an extreme lack of enthusiasm for guacamole (Earth to Lauren! You LOVE Mexican. Get with the program!). Something about avocado just doesn't sit well with my taste buds. Frankly, I'm disappointed in them.

Despite their lack of enthusiasm, I've been trying to incorporate avocados into my diet because, well, they're just packed with so many good things! I hate to miss out on a good nutrient party.

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There are more than 80 varieties of avocados, the most common in the United States being the Hass avocado or the 'alligator pear', a reference to it's dark green color and bumpy texture. Avocados have the highest protein content of any fruit, making it a great choice for people who want to incorporate plant-based protein into their diets.

  • Avocados are packed with 'good' fats, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.These fast help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and help raise your HDL (good) cholesterol.
  • Avocados contain more potassium than a banana, the 'potassium poster-child'. Potassium plays an important role in metabolic function and muscle growth.
  • Avocados are rich in B vitamins (which help the immune system fight disease and break down protein), vitamin C (for growth and development), vitamin E (for healthy skin and hair and free-radical fighting) and vitamin K (which is responsible for blood clotting).
  • Avocados contain folate, which is instrumental in the development of healthy cells and tissues (folate is very important for pregnant women and infants).
  • Avocados are an excellent source of fiber, which aids in proper digestion.

Avocados can be a bit intimidating when it comes to picking them out and knowing when they're ripe. Here's a fantastic chart explaining what the avocado looks like in each stage of the ripening process...  You'll know it's ready to eat when it yields slightly to firm pressure, and if you need to speed up the process, you can put it in a paper bag as it ripens. 

My friend Katie found this amazing recipe for tilapia burgers with watermelon salsa and avocado  It met my standards for sufficiently disguising the taste of avocado and tricking my taste buds into submission. Here's a play-by-play on how to make them (minus measurements...that's what the recipe link above is for!).

To make the watermelon salsa, finely dice the garlic.
Remove the insides of half a jalapeno and...
chop finely.
Wash and chop a small head of cilantro.
Finely chop a red onion.
Dice the watermelon into small pieces.
Combine all the ingredients and set your salsa aside.
Finely chop the tilapia (or use a food processor).
Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl (bread crumbs, spices, eggs).
Add the tilapia to the bowl of remaining ingredients...
and form burger patties (try not to make them too thick).
When the olive oil in your skillet is piping hot, cook the burgers for 3-4 minutes on each side or until brown.
When they're done, they'll feel firm when you press against the top.
Toast your wheat buns, layer with the burger, avocado slices and watermelon salsa. Ta-da! You're done and look
how impressive this looks! 

And if you just can't get enough avocado, here are some more amazing recipes to try...

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1 comment:

  1. I've always wondered what it's like to eat avocado; I heard it can prevent blood clots at a fraction of the cost of lovenox.